Expanding Their Winter Range?

Peregrine at the Freeport Bridge, 9 Nov 2019 (photo by Dave Brooke)

13 Nov 2019:

Since last August when Sean Brady reported peregrines at the Freeport Bridge, Dave Brooke has spent time at the Treadway Trail parking lot beneath the bridge hoping to take their pictures.

Here are two of Dave’s photos: 9 Nov 2019 (above) and 10 Oct 2019 (below).

Peregrine with dots on breast, Freeport Bridge, 28 Oct 2019 (photo by Dave Brooke)

As I examined the October photo I noticed that the peregrine’s dotted breast and darkly lined chest look familiar. Few other peregrines look like this, but the female from the Tarentum Bridge does.

For comparison here are two photos of her from last February.

Female at Tarentum Bridge, Feb 2019, two photos by Steve Gosser

Female peregrine (dots on breast) at the Tarentum Bridge, 19 Feb 2019 (photo by Steve Gosser)

Meanwhile Dave’s November 9 photo is not a dotted-breast bird. It is possible though, that it’s the Tarentum male. The female would readily tolerate the presence of her mate but probably not another peregrine.

Compare the top November 9 photo to this one.

Male peregrine at Tarentum Bridge, 25 March 2019

Male peregrine at Tarentum Bridge after mating, 25 March 2019 (photo by Dave Brooke)

Peregrines expand their hunting territory as soon as their youngsters are able to hunt. They expand even further in winter when their primary prey — birds — have left on migration.

It would not be unusual for the Tarentum peregrines to be five miles from their nest site, only minutes away by air. The area has an additional attraction. Ducks gather at the Allegheny River Lock & Dam #5 just upstream from Freeport.

(photos by Dave Brooke and Steve Gosser)

Interesting eBird note: The Freeport Bridge crosses the line where four PA counties meet: Allegheny, Armstrong, Butler and Westmoreland. The peregrines could be in any one of 4 counties depending on where they perch.

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